cover image Elektra


Jennifer Saint. Flatiron, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-77361-6

Saint (Ariadne) returns with a brilliant feminist revision of the Greek myth of the House of Atreus. As in the Aeschylus plays, the lives of three powerful women intersect through war and vengeance: Cassandra, daughter of the king and queen of Troy; Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon; and Elektra, daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. In alternating chapters, each woman relays her own story and is treated to generous and bold character development. Cassandra, kissed by the god Apollo, receives the gift of prophecy and is disregarded by her family despite the fates she sees for them. Agamemnon wages war against Troy beginning with a treacherous act that Clytemnestra cannot forgive. Clytemnestra soon bears Agamemnon’s son, a child she finds difficult to love because of his association with Agamemnon, and joins forces with her nephew, Aegisthus. Saint enriches the tense story with psychological depth, showing, for instance, how Elektra simmers with resentment of her mother and Aegisthus for their betrayal of Agamemnon. The author also does a splendid job managing the timeline, with rich and sustained scenes and seamless jumps. Out of a canonical myth, Saint has built a commanding story of rebellious women. (May)